Seeing as this was a club race with a huge turnout from WTC I think we need a race report to end the season so here goes!
I had been hearing about Kenmare all summer, that it was a gruelling course with some serious climbing both on the bike course and run course, so I was anxious for much of the week leading up to it, and didn’t know if my body and mind were ready for it after a long season of racing hard. I think the other WTC members were of the same mindset. The climbs we would face on the bike course made up much of the conversation the night before and the prospect of having to run an equally gruelling 21k. Darren Stanley quickly put our fears to rest with his comment “sure it’s just a cycle followed by a gentle jog around Kerry, no big deal” (this was Darren’s first ½ ironman so not sure he knew what was ahead!)
The morning arrived and everyone was up at about 5.30 (well...I might have given myself an extra 30mins ) getting themselves ready. Down to transition and the WTC crew were all put together so there was good banter and plenty of support from the spectators Aine Quinn and Antonia. The water was calm, it wasn’t raining and there was very little wind so this was getting off to a nice start!
Of course Deirdre’s first blonde moment of the day came when I left my bag in transition while I went for a late warm up and the marshals were shouting at WTC to get it removed. Aine came to my rescue and then it was a scramble to get into the wetsuit as everyone was getting into the water.
The second blonde moment (and this is bad) happened just before I got into the water. I realized I had no timing chip around my ankle; it was back in the house in the goody bag, great place to be (maybe that extra 30mins kip wasn't such a good idea). Luckily a marshal was able to give me another chip, panic over! So into the water and before I knew it everyone around me was swimming hard, I was expecting to get some sort of a count down or warning.
So off I went with the 300 other swimmers to the first buoy. It turned out to be a really pleasant swim with no elbows, punches or kicks from other competitors and the goggles managed not to fog up! That anti fog spray was a very good investment. I came out of the water in 36mins which I was happy with. Joanna was the first WTC girl out of the water in an impressive time of 30mins and Marie followed closely behind in 31mins. Noelie was the first WTC man out of the water in a time of 29 mins with Darren Stanely only seconds behind.
A quick transition and out onto the infamous Kenmare bike course. I decided to use the TT bike as I knew there would be plenty of sections where I’d want to be in the aero position. This was definitely the right decision as I was down on the bars until the Healy Pass and really enjoyed this fast section of the course. Passed Joanna and shouted at her to get down on her tri bars, not sure if she took my advice, was probably cursing me!
After about 2k of the Healy Pass I passed who I thought I needed to beat to get an age group position Louise Keane (didn’t realize there was also Amy Woulfe ahead who was coming 3rd in my age group). I think Louise was thinking the same thing as she raced passed me a few mins later. I passed her again and held her off for the climb but knew she’d come back on the flat. I then passed Darren Stanley who was going well for his first ½ ironman, I was wondering if he was looking forward to his gentle jog!
The views on the Healy Pass were amazing and I really enjoyed it, I love climbing so this course was suiting me. The switch backs however were another story, I’d climb over descending any day, was so scared of coming off my bike and definitely lost time on this descent. About 20 sharp bends, I thought I’d never get to the end. Finally, with the switchbacks behind me, Louise Keane comes flying passed me out of no where, like a rocket, don’t know how she got down so fast, no fear!
I needed the push so worked hard to catch her and once I passed her I didn’t see her for the rest of the course, maybe I’ll get 3rd in my age group I thought. I then came upon John Darcy and when I passed him this pushed him on and he overtook me. He stayed ahead until just before the summit of the Caha pass and when I overtook him it was full speed ahead! Aine Quinn was at the summit cheering everyone on, it was great support, no wonder her voice and hands were sore by the end of the day.
Once on the descent after Caha it was no holding back as I knew it was only 14k to transition and there were no more climbs. The run however was going through my mind. Will my legs be okay, have I gone too hard? I’m sure everyone else was thinking the same thing, the run was looming in the distance. 2:45 on the garmin when I arrived into transition, I hadn’t set a time for myself for the bike course so once I was under the 3 hours I was happy.
On with the socks and runners and 2 gels and off I went for the run. It was gonna go one way or the other, I would know by about 5k if I was going to have a good run. I saw Louise Keane come into transition as I was running out so knew she would be chasing me. Thankfully the legs felt okay by the 5k mark and I was able to keep a steady pace.
This is one hilly ½ marathon, it is literally up and down for the whole run and you have to talk yourself through it. By the 11k mark my legs began to cramp and I thought I’d have to stop until it eased, luckily the gel sorted me out and I kept going. By 15k however the cramps returned and when I stopped my legs literally ceased up and I had to walk, this is when Stephen O’Kane passed me and urged me on. I forced myself to start running again and luckily the cramps eased off.
The marshals were talking about a steep climb between the 15k and 17k mark so I was waiting on this hill to come into sight and psyching myself up for it. Eventually it arrived and they weren’t underestimating how steep it was. Pure torture is all I can describe it as and what a place to put it, 17k when the body is really suffering. I walked/shuffled up it along with most other people around me, I think it was quicker to walk. Once I got to the top it was mental strength to get through the last 4k. When I saw the 20k marker it was such a relief to know I only had 1k left, pushed it to the end and clocked a pb for a ½ marathon of 1:42. The pain was worth it. Louise Keane came in at 1:44 so was close behind. The age group prize was not to be however, maybe next year.
It was brilliant to see all the other WTC members who had finished and those still crossing the finish line especially the first timers Darren, Corrie, Mark, Nicola, Marie, Joanna, Alan Wildes, Ronan Short, Viv, John D (I think) hope I haven’t missed anyone. A big well done to Marie for surviving the run on a swollen ankle, that was impressive!
Also well done to Noelie, Barry and John D for getting age group prizes!
This is definitely a race worth doing and I think most of those who raced it will be back next year! Well done to everyone!
A massive thanks to the support crew Aine, Antonio, Aoife and Claire (again hope I didn't forget anyone) ye were brilliant in so many spots around the course not to mention the last 800m we were all struggling there but the cheers and roars put a pep in all our steps.